'Star Trek' Movie Gets Science Advice

'Star Trek' Movie Gets Science Advice
The poster for the new 'Star Trek' movie, to be released in December 2008. (Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

The out-of-this world visuals in the new "Star Trek" moviewill actually be based on science from our solar system. A NASA planetaryscientist has joined the film's production team to ensure the scientificaccuracy of the movie's astronomical scenes.

As the leader of the Imaging Science team on NASA'S Cassinimission at Saturn, Carolyn Porco has guided a crew of scientists and engineersresponsible for illustrating the mission's results.

Porco now will also work on the new Paramount Pictures film asa consultant on planetary science and imagery.

"This is a fabulous opportunity to bring to a wideraudience the discoveries we've made at Saturn, and the spectacular sights wehave seen there," Porco said. "And what better way to do that than tomake use of those discoveries in the crafting of imagery for one of the mostpopular movie franchises of all time." 

Porco was invited to join the Star Trek Team by the movie'sdirector and producer, J.J. Abrams.

"Carolyn and her team have produced images that are simplystunning," Abrams said.  "I'm thrilled that she will help guideour production in creating an authentic vision of space, one that immerses ouraudience in a visual experience as awe-inspiring as what Carolyn's cameras havecaptured."

Abrams, who co-created, produced, and directed the TV series"Lost," did the same for the TV series "Alias" and directedthe film "Mission: Impossible III," was present at the 2007 TEDconference in Monterey, California where Porco spoke of the recent findingsfrom the Cassini mission. 

Porco directs the Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory forOperations (CICLOPS) at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado, whereCassini images are processed for release to the public. (Cassini images ofSaturn and its rings and moons can be found at the official imaging team Web site,http://ciclops.org)

Porco said she has made it her personal mission to produce imagesfrom the spacecraft, launched in October 1997, that are scientificallyaccurate, artfully presented and as true to life as possible. 

"Ever since we departed Earth 10 years ago," saidPorco, "I wanted the world to see and enjoy what the planetary bodies andphenomena imaged by our cameras would look like if one were there, going alongfor the ride." 

Porco, a frequent commentator on science, astronomy andspace exploration for television, radio and print media, is not new to filmproduction.  She served as a consultant on the Warner Bros. movie"Contact" starring Jodie Foster, and as scientific advisor and ananimation director for the A&E television special on the 25th anniversaryof the Voyager mission, "Cosmic Journey," produced by Cosmos Studiosand Norman Star Media.  

Porco played a prominent role in the Voyager mission tothe outer planets in the 1980s, and is also an imaging scientist on NASA's NewHorizons mission, currently on its way to Pluto.   

She has a space object named after her ? the Asteroid (7231)Porco. It was designated in 1998 to honor her contributions to the explorationof the outer solar system.  

On the new film, Porco will be working directly with RogerGuyett, the movie's supervisor for visual effects.  Guyett has been acreative leader at George Lucas' visual effects firm, Industrial Light andMagic, since 1994, and has been visual effects director for such classics as"Star Wars: Episode III," "Harry Potter and the Prisoner ofAzkaban," "Mission: Impossible III," "Pirates of theCaribbean: At World's End," and more. 

"Everybody is very excited about Carolyn's involvementin the film," said Guyett.  "Her incredible knowledge andexpertise is obviously something we're going to tap into. And thebreathtaking imagery that she brings to the collaboration will inspire us allto create some awesome images for our movie!" 

The original 1966-1969 television series "StarTrek" was created by Gene Roddenberry, and sparked a franchise on TV that encompasses726 total episodes across six different series, including the original. Thefirst 10 "Star Trek" films have grossed in excess of $1 billion atthe worldwide box office.   

"Star Trek," currently being filmed, is scheduledfor release in December 2008.  


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Newsarama Staff
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